Holistic Approaches to Managing Depression
Joan-Marie Lartin, Ph.D., RN
Local psychotherapist Joan-Marie Lartin, Ph.D., RN, discovered early in her career that pharmaceutical drugs used for depression and anxiety, while effective, had too many side effects and in many cases, the risks associated with taking them far outweigh the benefits. With a background in family systems and a specialty in depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, child abuse, sexual assault and other stress-related physical problems, Lartin knew there were healthier alternatives for her clients.
It is estimated that 8 percent of Americans suffer from depression. “There are depressing, oppressive events that can happen in a person’s life. Depression is a natural consequence of experiencing sustained stress, loss, mistreatment, physical trauma or serious illness. The sustained stress produced drains the body of serotonin, and the person becomes depleted,” says Lartin, who asserts that it is possible to shift out of the sadness, lethargy, insomnia, gloomy thoughts and carbohydrate or other cravings without using antidepressants. “There is a fundamental agreement among researchers and clinicians about the importance of psychotherapy in the treatment of depression,” she says. In addition to talk therapy, Lartin uses two additional, scientifically proven, natural approaches in her practice.
One method is targeted amino acid therapy, which helps to balance chemicals in the brain. “A urine specimen is analyzed for neurotransmitter levels and the results include suggestions of specific types and doses of naturally occurring amino acids,” says Lartin. The recommended amino acids provide the building blocks needed to achieve a more balanced state. For depression, the most commonly used amino acid is 5-hydroxyytryptophan (5-HTP). “Most people with low serotonin levels have an almost immediate positive response once they begin supplementing with the proper dosage of 5-HTP,” notes Lartin.
Another natural method is neurofeedback training. “This non-invasive, safe technology can actually help reset the brain. The form of biofeedback, which is music that goes on and off at timed intervals, is very powerful in reducing depression, particularly when used in conjunction with psychotherapy and amino acid therapy. It can very quickly resolve insomnia and negative thinking, and most people have an immediate positive response after the first feedback session.”
Lartin says that most of her clients find it easier to evaluate and make constructive changes in their lives when they choose to use amino acid therapy and neurofeedback in addition to talk therapy. However, either method used with psychotherapy can help get a depressed person get unstuck.
“When a person is feeling depressed, the most important thing they can do is to take action. My favorite quote, ‘Action is the antidote to despair,’ by Joan Baez, really sums it up. I love being part of that process and helping people move into better places and situations in their lives,” says Lartin.